Broadmoor Art Teacher - Robin Mullen
This was an experience which is so rare, rewarding and insightful. By chance in the late 1980’s, I was contacted and offered the position of art tutor at Broadmoor in Crowthorne Berkshire. This psychiatric hospital has housed some notorious patients;
Ronald Kray, Peter Sutcliffe 'The Yorkshire Ripper', and Kenneth Erskine 'The Stockwell strangler' being amongst them.
During my time tutoring in the establishment I had a close connection with two of these three. (I'm being a bit cagey!).
Needless to say, I could write a book about this episode in my life. It was so insightful for a young man to observe face to face some brilliant minds which occasionally saw the world in a unique way.
Before starting, an intensive self defence course was compulsory. The instructors were tough and informative. In the evening Sue would suffer my version of the self defence, poor thing!
The classroom contained a panic button, but I never came close to using it. Art was a privilege to an inmate and I was seen as a helpful guide.
There were humorous moments, thoughtful moments and tragic moments. As you can imagine it let me enter a mysterious world.
How was the art?
Wow! what a range of skills my students displayed. There was work which would sit comfortably in traditional galleries produced by an (apparently) gentle man, who could copy anything accurately. Downside was the time taken, averaging six months. All the students understandably had their own take on art. I was more than grateful for the opportunity to guide them in their quest to illustrate their thoughts.
Those of you who know me can imagine how it affected me. I was sympathetic, but aware that manipulation was parr for the course. I eventually had to make the obvious choice. Teach or paint. I'm an observer and experimental artist who learnt a lot about human psychology, in a unique way at Broadmoor.